I am delighted to welcome to my blog Clare Swatman, Author of Before You Go published by Pan Macmillian on Kindle in 2016 and which now being released in paperback on 27 July 2017. Clare is here today with an exclusive guest post. As always thank you for taking the time to stop by today.
Clare Swatman has been a writer and journalist for more years than she cares to remember. In that time she has written for many women’s magazines including Take a Break, Bella and Best, and also edits a local magazine in her home town of Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire where she lives with her husband and two boys.
Clare was born in Essex, but she doesn’t think it’s rubbed off on her too much. She studied French and Spanish in Newcastle but can hardly speak a word these days, to her shame. She also completed a post-graduate magazine journalism course with PMA Media Training.
Her debut novel, BEFORE YOU GO, was published by Pan Macmillan in February 2017, in time for Valentine’s Day. Translation rights have also been sold in 21 countries including Germany, France, Italy, The Netherlands, China and Poland. She’s currently working on her second novel, and enjoying every minute.
~ Author Spot with Clare Swatman ~
Since Before You go was released into the wild back in February, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. New reviews make my stomach flip; good ones give me a warm glow, while bad ones make my fists clench and my brow furrow. I’ve had to learn not to read every single one or it will drive me mad!
But at the end of the day, having my very first book published has been, and continues to be, an amazing experience.
In a nutshell, Before You Go is a big love story. But it’s not a straightforward one because it involves a bit of time travel, and asks the reader to think ‘what if?’ What if I had the chance to go back and change certain things? What if I could go back a few years and stop someone I love dying. Would I do it? And how much would I try and change?
People have seemed fascinated by this side of the story, and I’m glad. Because for me, it’s always been something I’ve thought about a lot. If we could change the past, would we?
I love time travel, and I love a good, tear-jerking love story. I’ve always loved hearing about other people’s lives; their happy stories, the terrible things that have happened and most importantly, how they got through them. How humans can deal with things that they never thought they’d be able to deal with until it happened to them.
I spent many years writing true life stories for women’s magazines. I interviewed hundreds of people – mainly women, but not exclusively – about the happy, sad and terrifying things that had happened to them in their lives. And even though some of the stories were horrifying, or made me cry, they were important. These people had been given a voice, and often, speaking to me was cathartic for them. They could spill their heart out, and there was someone there to listen. And then, their story would be written down, and so would never be lost, or forgotten.
I think it was from all these years of listening to people telling me their stories that made me realise the kind of story I wanted to write. I love all kinds of fiction, from crime thrillers to love stories and classics. But after several attempts to write something, I realise what my voice was.
It wasn’t literary, or fast-paced. It was chatty, friendly. Real.
My story needed to be about something extraordinary happening to ordinary people because that’s what I know.
And so my love of real stories combined with my fascination with time travel slowly became Before You Go. And I loved writing it.
The cultural references for this novel were easy because they were my cultural references: I went to university in the early 1990s, I listened to music a lot, I worked in London in the late 1990s/early 2000s. It was my time.
The music mentioned in the book has been made into a spotify playlist: the playlist of Ed and Zoe. It contains songs as diverse as Rolling Stones Under My Thumb to The Prodigy’s Firestarter and The Spice Girls, Stop. Music is a big passion of mine, and for me, including it in the book helps to give the whole thing authenticity. At least, that’s the intention!
My second book, The Mother’s Secret, has been more of a challenge as it’s set around the time I was born. Writing real stories set in real places does mean you have to get the details right, otherwise, you make people cross – plus it can distract from the story you’re trying to tell.
So far, the experience of being a published author has been amazing. Yes, it can be tough, and lonely, and yes, people are going to hate your books. But at the end of the day, as long as some people have enjoyed them, and you’ve enjoyed writing them, you can’t ask for anything more than that. All I can do now is hope people will continue to read my books so I can continue to write them!
Ed and Zoe’s Ultimate Playlist (available on Spotify) ~
The Rolling Stones – Under My Thumb
Blind Melon – No Rain
Cypress Hill – Insane in the Brain
Spice Girls – Stop
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Give It Away
The Chemical Brothers – Hey Boy Hey Girl
Blur – Charmless Man
Pink – Get The Party Started
Pearl Jam – Smile
The Prodigy – Firestarter
Before You Go is a powerful story of love and loss perfect for fans of Me Before You and One Day, by debut author Clare Swatman.
When Zoe’s husband Ed dies, her world caves in. But what if Zoe can get Ed back?
You find your soulmate . . .
Some people stare love in the face for years before they find it. Zoe and Ed fumbled their way into adulthood, both on different paths – but always in the same direction. Years later, having navigated dead-end jobs and chaotic house shares, romance finally blossoms. Their future together looks set . . .
Then the unthinkable happens.
One morning, on his way to work, Ed is knocked off his bike and dies. Now Zoe must find a way to survive. But she’s not ready to let go of the memories. How can she forget all of the happy times, their first kiss, everything they’d built together? Zoe decides she has to tell Ed all the things she never said.
Now it’s too late. Or is it?
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